The Best Wine Buzz in San Diego

The Best Wine Buzz in San Diego

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wineomics 101

When The Andaz (formerly Ivy) Wine Bar opened a year ago, it was about as trendy as they come. It has a bright back-lit accent wall lined from end to end with enomatic wine machines that you almost don’t notice as you take in the rest of the lounge environment, complete with cowhide-covered booths that are, shall we say, less than comfortable.

The first time I went, which was admittedly months ago, the line of machines combined with the polished accents, dark wood and accent lights gave me the vague sense that I was on board a futuristic space ship (except for the cowhide), and that the bottles encased in the robotic glass cases were the last surviving specimens of wine saved during an apocalyptic catastrophe.

And I hadn’t even had any wine yet.

But I was also struck by the fact that the wine was priced as though it really was the last remaining vino on Earth.  I am a huge fan of Far Niente Chardonnay, so I was excited to see that it was available. But I was not willing to pay almost $9 for a 1.5 oz pour, or $35 for a 6-oz. glass. Nearly all of the rest of the selections were high-end, boutique wines at the same price point, and my friend and I left feeling robbed, not because we paid the high prices but because the high prices deterred us from our wine fix altogether.

Then my friend, a business genius, started doing the math. At this point in our number-crunching conversations I usually tune out as my left brain starts remembering the numerous grammatical sins I see committed every day, and let him enjoy the compounding calculations all to himself. But that day his argument was compelling:

There are 25.4 ounces in a normal 750 ml bottle of wine; therefore roughly 17 1.5-oz. pours, and about four glasses, per bottle.  At that rate, the one-shot prices are the equivalent of buying a bottle of Far Niente Chard for $140. They retail for $50-60, so this is well within the typical 2-3x markup that wine bars are famous for.

See? Total genius.

I recently went back to Andaz and noticed that they have replaced nearly all of the higher-end wine with affordable alternatives, save for a 2007 Aubert Chardonnay for $8.66 per taste and a 2007 Justin Isosceles for $6.66 (apt, since Justin just sold the winery to Fiji Water). But now that I've done the math, I feel like people should really have the opportunity to try smaller doses of awesome wine at a price that doesn't break the bank. That's the point of enomatic machines, after all.

But here is the real lesson, kids: enjoy your wine however you like it, but never, ever try to calculate the cost in a unit smaller than a full bottle, because it is sure to taste less satisfying.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The ordinance passed - more wine for us!

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors passed the wine ordinance I posted about earlier this week, which means that local boutique wineries with small productions will be opening tasting rooms around the county in the near future. Check out this Union Tribune article for the full scoop:


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vote on County Ordinance could change local wine scene

Breaking News!

Not really, but this is the first I'm hearing about this, and I love the jolt of adrenaline that comes from those two words.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote tomorrow on legislation that could have a huge impact on the SD wine scene.

The Board will decide whether to approve the San Diego Winery Ordinance, which would allow small wineries in unincorporated areas of the county that bottle less than 12,000 gallons of wine per year to sell their wine on-site. Right now, obtaining the permits and zoning necessary to build tasting rooms in the county is an expensive and complicated endeavor, but a change in the policy would simplify the process and could lead to new hubs of wine drinking activity that would boost our local reputation.

Vince Vaquez of The Daily Transcript has a great overview of the issue posted on The Transcript's site:

Of course, I think this would be an awesome development, but there are two sides to every story. Check out this news piece from Channel 10 that describes why Ramona residents are worried about what will happen to their quiet community if the ordinance is passed:

I'll keep you posted when I find out more...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

To all my wine-drinking friends, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and you get to enjoy a relaxing weekend, complete with good food and delicious wine.  If its warm where you are and you want to try something new, I'd suggest picking up a bottle of chilled Rose - its a refreshing option, and it is pretty much designed for drinking on a sunny summer afternoon.

Or, you can do what I plan to do - drink beer. Shocking, I know, but there is something about the heat and the BBQing and the fireworks that just screams Hefeweizen to me.

Also, San Diego is home to one of the largest Navy fleets in the world and also Marine Corps and Coast Guard bases, so the military is a big part of the culture. I'd like to say thank you to all of men and women serving here and overseas in our military on this Independence Day. 

Happy 4th of July!

Photo courtesy Jeremy Anderson, San Diego Padres game, Memorial Day 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Paso Robles: Round 2

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about a great event I went to in Point Loma that showcased about 40 wine makers from Paso Robles.  Many were there to connect with distributors who could sell their wines into local restaurants, meaning that you should start seeing some of these brands in eateries around town.

I was covering the event for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group, which I had just started writing for as a reporter.  However, they didn't end up running the article...until now.

The July issue of Downtown News was released today, I am happy to report (ahem) that the article, "It is time to explore Paso Robles wine in San Diego," was included.  Click on the title to read the piece.